It looks like embattled Governor Mark Sanford in South Carolina will keep his job, as the Republican-dominated (yet hardly friendly) State Legislature has voted not to impeach him. He still faces a variety of ethics charges stemming from his use of official time and resources to carry on an affair with a woman in Argentina. This has all been very sad.
I am personally biased and unable to be anything but that in this matter. Mark Sanford reached out to me to help him think differently about how to organize his staff, he provided me with superb access, and he invited me into a world in which I have a great deal of interest. In the process, we became friendly, and I thoroughly enjoyed our conversations. I will not soon forget how dedicated he was to improvement, in some cases listening without anger or delusion, to hard words about his personal management style and the need to change. Putting aside this personal aspect of the matter, I am saddened for the Republican Party and for the country that a sane voice of reason in the mounting crisis that is our addiction to debt is likely to be sidelined politically. Sanford was anti-debt when being anti-debt wasn't cool--he looked at the stimulus as the pig in a poke that it was, and he sounded the alarum that the country must move from its entitlement addiction to a position of fiscal responsibility. To be honest, I was always pretty soft on debt and the deficit--until I began listening more closely to Sanford and others explain how our mounting debt was the ticking timebomb that would lay this economy low--even lower than it has recently been. Had this most unfortunate personal failing not occurred, I would have been a huge supporter of a Sanford run for the White House, as his candidacy would have FORCED the Republican field to face a number of very hard questions. Had he run, I would very likely have sought a leave of absence from my job to join the team and do what I could to help him win.
I'm glad Mark Sanford will keep his job. I hope he keeps talking about debt and fiscal responsibility. I hope he finds personal happiness. And if there are--contrary to conventional wisdom--second acts in American politics, I'll be there with him to see how I can help.